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Seeing Amman through the eyes of Access The World Scholarship Recipient, Lauren Distler

The city of Amman is built almost entirely out of white sandstone, so when viewed from from a distance it looks like outcroppings of rock on the hillsides.

Amman scene

The Roman colosseum in Amman, where events and concerts are still held today: 


Jordanian Independance Day Band:


A mosque downtown:


Many of my favorite memories come from the trips we took--

Floating in the Dead Sea:

Amman 4

Umm Qais:
Riding through the Hippodrome in the ancient city of Umm Qais:

Amman 5

Umm Qais, Old and New:

Amman 7


Pictures completely fail to capture the beauty of the Hagia Sophia, or the awe one feels walking around in a place suffused with so much human history.

Hagia Sophia

Amman 8

Learning to cook Turkish food:

Amman 9

Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque):

Amman 11

Sultanahmet lit up at night- one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Those pinpricks of light you see are actually birds wheeling in the sky about the mosque, their wings illuminated from below: Amman 12


One of the most interesting things I came across in Petra was a church carved into the cliffside. Having been in Istanbul the week before, it was fascinating to compare the church's austere elegance with the opulence of places like the Hagia Sophia. Two very different structures built for the same purpose.

The church in Petra:

Amman 13

Inside the Hagia Sophia:

Amman 14

Wadi Rum:
   My favorite memory of the whole trip was when we were in Wadi Rum (which translates to "Rock Valley"), this place in the desert that used to be the floor of an ocean millennia ago. At some point there was an earthquake that drained the ocean, leaving behind a desert and these /huge/ sedimentary rock formations that rise out of the sand like jagged towers. During the day we rode camels and 4x4s around the desert, got these awesome meals from the bedouin tribe we were staying with, watched the sun set, etc; but what I really was looking forward to was when the stars came out. After nightfall a couple of friends and I hiked back out of the camp and climbed up one of the rock formations (I got a couple of nice scrapes and bruises from that but it was worth it). There was the road in the distance, and a couple of camps dotting the landscape below, but other than that there was no source of light pollution for miles and miles. Laying back on the rocks there were so many stars above that it was difficult to pick out the familiar constellations from among the thousands of glowing pinpricks. To my right, low in the sky, one could make out the big dipper; to my left, the hazy clouds of the milky way. If you thought about it right you could see the sky as curving above you, a glittering dome stretching from horizon to horizon.
   Telling this story, a friend asked me if seeing the cosmos made me feel small. I replied that no, if anything witnessing that vast beauty above me reinforced the delight I find in the idea that, through pure chance and probability (atoms bumping against each other), the universe created something with which it could observe itself.

Amman 15

The desert at sunset:

Amman 16

CIEE and Mobility International USA are partnering to offer motivated and high-achieving U.S. college students with disabilities the opportunity to study abroad!

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush's signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July 1990, CIEE is awarding 25 scholarships to students to enroll in CIEE study abroad programs.